Working in the Defence sector offers so many more options than simply joining the Army, Navy, RAF or Police. Although these are four of the major employers within the sector, there are many more avenues to explore.
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What is the Defence sector?
The Defence sector is a vital industry to many countries. The sector and those employed in it help maintain the safety and security of citizens. It also provides numerous jobs not only on the front line of defence, but in industries including engineering, aeronautics, electronics and more – industries that support the defence sector.
The UK’s Defence industry is one of the most innovative in the world
In 2014, the EU Defence sector directly employed around 500,000 people and indirectly supported 1.2 million other jobs. The UK’s Defence industry is one of the most innovative in the world, with significant investment being made into research and development (R&D) and manufacturing, plus new areas of interest such as cyber security. It is vital to the economy, and safety, of the country.
Job roles in the Defence sector: Other roles
As stated previously, there’s much more to the defence industry than simply joining the Army, Navy or RAF.
Other high-profile employers include GCHQ and MI5, plus a number of other private companies used by the defence industry. These include Airbus, BAE Systems, Qinetiq, Rolls-Royce and more.
Here are some example roles that can be found in some of the other numerous companies that support the Defence sector:
Where to start? From the above job list, there are numerous qualifications that could be required to join the Defence sector; so let’s start easy:
For the Army, Navy, RAF and Police, no specific degree or qualification is required for most entry-level, non-specific roles. You can join as a school leaver in various apprenticeship roles, but you will need some GCSEs and to pass some written tests and individual fitness tests.
However, for a number of the other roles available certain qualifications and degree subjects are desired. Some of the degree qualifications that are highly desirable in the Defence sector are:
Engineering; Automotive; STEM (science, technical, engineering or mathematical degree subjects); Business; Electronics; IT; Medical; Manufacturing; Physics – to name but a few.
Skills you need to join the Defence sector
Having the right skillset is far more desirable than simply having a degree; there are numerous skills that you will need to have in order to join the Defence sector, but don’t worry if you don’t have them in abundance – you will be trained up pretty swiftly! These include:
Work experience in the Defence sector
While you are unlikely to secure work experience on the front-line or on live missions, there is plenty on offer in the various departments within the Army, Navy, RAF and Police, as well as the various private companies involved in the Defence sector as listed above.
One of the easiest ways to gain work experience in the Defence sector is to join as a cadet, which literally means trainee. Joining as a cadet means you’ll get military training while at school age. You can become a Sea Cadet, Army Cadet, Royal Marines Cadet, Air Training or Police Cadet.
At university, you could look to join a training programme
At university, you could look to join the University Officers’ Training Corps (UOTC), which comprises of leadership training units run by the British Army. There are also equivalents in both the RAF and – with the UAS (University Air Squadron) and URNU (University Royal Naval Unit) respectively.
All these schemes help develop leadership skills and allow for members to train for their chosen sector whilst still studying at university.
Similarly several organisations offer internships, industry placements and more – you’ll need to visit individual companies’ websites to find specific details of this.
Many companies – including the public sector branches of the Army, Navy, RAF and Police – will also be present at careers fairs at schools and universities. These fairs are a fantastic chance to speak to employees and gather information on what work experience they have no offer.
Pros and Cons
|There are plenty of opportunities for career progression, with set career paths laid out in a number of companies and organisations.||It can be a dangerous sector to be involved in, with highly intense periods of work.
|It is well paid at high levels with set promotions - reaching around £50,000 for the highest levels.||You may be stationed away from home for long periods of time or need to relocate depending on work.
|You can receive a lot of training and gain qualifications, some of which will be paid for by the sector.||It requires you to constantly maintain your fitness, skill levels and political awareness.
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